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Global Warming Climate Change Forecasts - 2040 



Wildfires, Global Warming

2040.  Number of acres burned by wildfire in the State of Washington projected to increase by 100% by 2040.  “Increased carbon dioxide will mean bigger trees, while higher temperatures increase the incidence of wildfire. The number of acres burned will increase by 50 percent by 2020 and by 100 percent by 2040, so the annual cost of fighting wildfires may exceed $75 million by 2020 - 50 percent higher than the current expenditures. 

That cost will double [$150 million] by 2040.  Lost timber sales, lost recreational and tourism opportunities, and health problems stemming from fires could be ‘many times higher’ than the cost of fire control, [Bob Doppelt, director of the Climate Leadership Initiative at the University of Oregon and co-author of 2007 study titled Impacts of Climate Change on Washington's Economy] said.” 

(Dan Richman, “Global Warming to Cost Us Millions Will Be Spent On Higher Prices, Fixes, Study Says,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 11, 2007 citing findings in "Impacts of Climate Change on Washington’s Economy : A Preliminary Assessment of Risks and Opportunities," Yoram Bauman, Bob Doppelt, Director, Climate Leadership Initiative, University of Oregon, 541-346-0786, Sarah Mazze, Edward Wolf, Washington Economic Steering Committee and the Climate Leadership Initiative, Institute for a Sustainable Environment, University of Oregon, prepared for the Department of Ecology and Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development, State of Washington, November 2006, p. 31)

See a more comprehensive summary of global warming fire forecasts.  

Heat Waves | Heat-Related Deaths

2039.  Stanford study projects that by 2039 hot temperature extremes could become frequent events in the U.S.  “Exceptionally long heat waves and other hot events could become commonplace in the United States in the next 30 years [2010 – 2039], according to a new study [Intensification of hot extremes in the United States] by Stanford University climate scientists [Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford and Moetasim Ashfaq, a former Stanford postdoctoral fellow now at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory]. . . . Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), Diffenbaugh concluded that hot temperature extremes could become frequent events in the U.S. by 2039, posing serious risks to agriculture and human health. 

‘In the next 30 years, we could see an increase in heat waves like the one now occurring in the eastern United States or the kind that swept across Europe in 2003 that caused tens of thousands of fatalities,’ said Diffenbaugh, a center fellow at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment.  ‘Those kinds of severe heat events also put enormous stress on major crops like corn, soybean, cotton and wine grapes, causing a significant reduction in yields.’ . . . From 2030 to 2039, most areas of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico could endure at least seven seasons equally as intense as the hottest season ever recorded between 1951 and 1999, the researchers concluded.” (Mark Shwartz, communications manager, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, “Heat waves and extremely high temperatures could be commonplace in the U.S. by 2039, Stanford study finds,” Stanford Report, July 8, 2010 citing findings in Diffenbaugh, N., and M. Ashfaq. Intensification of hot extremes in the United States. Geophys. Res. Lett., (in press) DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043888, August 6, 2010)

Number of Extremely Hot Seasons Per Decade, 2030-2039

heat waves global warming 2030 2035 2040

"By 2039, most of the U.S. could experience at least four seasons equally as intense as the hottest season ever recorded from 1951-1999, according to Stanford University climate scientists. In most of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, the number of extremely hot seasons could be as high as seven." Source:  Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq, Aug., 6, 2010

2040.  By 2040 heat waves like the lethal 2003 heat wave are likely to take place in Europe every other year.  “Last week, Paul Della-Marta, a researcher at Switzerland's Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, presented findings at an international conference on climate science in Gwatt, Switzerland, showing that since 1880 the duration of heat waves in Western Europe has doubled and the number of unusually hot days in the region has nearly tripled. In a separate 2004 study, researchers at Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research produced computer models showing that greenhouse gas emissions had doubled the likelihood of events like the lethal 2003 European heat wave, and that by 2040 it is likely such heat waves will take place there every other year.  

And researchers at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., reported this week [week of August 4, 2006] that nighttime summer temperatures across the country have been unusually high for the past eight years, a record streak.” (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer, “More Frequent Heat Waves Linked to Global Warming - U.S. and European Researchers Call Long Hot Spells Likely,” The Washington Post, August 4, 2006) 

2040.  By 2040 more than half of Europe's summers are likely to top deadly record temperatures of 2003 under scenarios developed by UK researchers.  “Europe's summer of 2003 seared itself into the record books as the hottest, deadliest summer the continent has endured in at least 500 years.  Temperatures in Paris topped 104 degrees. Even nightfall brought little or no relief.  Now, a new analysis [Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003] from researchers at the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research and Oxford University in Britain suggests more than half of the risk that the heat wave would occur can be traced to human influence on climate.   If concentrations of heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases from power plants and factories continue to increase, even at a modest pace, they say, by 2040 more than half of Europe's summers are likely [to] top those record temperatures of 2003. By 2100, the summer of 2003 could even stand as an unusually cool one.”  (Peter N. Spotts, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, “Heat wave risk rising with emissions,” The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Massachusetts, December 2, 2004 citing findings in Stott, P. A., D. A. Stone, and M. R. Allen. 2004. Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003. Nature, 432, 610-614.  Corrigem. Nature, 436, 1200)

2040.  Heat waves predicted to sweep through many parts of Europe by 2040.  “Climate change experts predict that heat waves will sweep through many parts of Europe by 2040, according to the Met Office's Hadley Centre, a U.K. climate-research center — creating serious impacts on freshwater resources.” (No author credited, “Shrinking Swiss Glacier,” National Geographic News, March 19, 2010)

Global Temperature Warming

2040.  EPA predicts temperature increases of nearly 4° F by the year 2040.  “The doomsday headlines (Sunbelt Moving North, Warming Spells Disaster) were unduly alarmist, and much of the information was well known to scientists. But last week a media brouhaha was triggered by new studies from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Academy of Sciences. Both groups agreed on a startling prognosis: the earth is warming up from all the carbon dioxide being spilled into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels, and worse, the first effects of the climatic changes could be felt as early as the 1990s.  The EPA predicted temperature increases of nearly 4° F by the year 2040; a rise in sea levels of  2 feet by 2025 (thereby inundating some low-lying areas in coastal cities such as Charleston, S.C., and Galveston, Texas); and drastically changing rainfall patterns, especially in the breadbasket areas of the Midwest, where reduced precipitation could jeopardize crops. Nothing, not even a sharp cutback in the use of fossil fuels, the EPA added, could alter this climatic course.” Emphasis added.  (Frederic Golden and Jay Branegan, “Environment: Hot Times for the Old Orb,” Time Magazine, Monday, Oct. 31, 1983) 

 Arctic Global Warming | Arctic Climate Change

2040.  Projected year that the Arctic could become nearly devoid of summer ice.  “The recent retreat of Arctic sea ice is likely to accelerate so rapidly that the Arctic Ocean could become nearly devoid of ice during summertime as early as 2040, according to new research published in the December 12 [2006] issue of Geophysical Research Letters.  The study, by a team of scientists [Holland, Bitz and Tremblay] from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, and McGill University, analyzes the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the Arctic.  Scenarios run on supercomputers show that the extent of sea ice each September could be reduced so abruptly that, within about 20 years, it may begin retreating four times faster than at any time in the observed record.” (NCAR News Release, “Abrupt Ice Retreat Could Produce Ice-Free Arctic Summers by 2040, National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR, Boulder, Colorado, December 11, 2006 citing findings in Holland, M. M., C. M. Bitz, and B. Tremblay (2006), Future abrupt reductions in the summer Arctic sea ice, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L23503, doi:10.1029/2006GL028024, Geophysical Research Letters, December 12, 2006) 

View other research findings and forecasts for Arctic climate change.

2040.  Year projected when the Arctic summer sea could be ice-free.  “On December 12, scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research said that the Arctic could be ice-free in summer as early as 2040, and in the next 20 years the extent of Arctic sea ice will be reduced by 80 percent.” (NRDC news release, “Conservation Groups Advance Protections For Polar Bear From Global Warming,” US Fed News Service, Including US State News, December 27, 2006) 

View other research findings and forecasts for
Arctic climate change.

Cost of Global Warming | Climate Change Costs 

2040.  A lot more imminent issues for the insurance industry to address in 2008 than the impact of climate change in 2040.  “Ms. Conway [Trish Conway, a senior actuarial adviser with Ernst & Young L.L.P. in New York] said the fact that some researchers hold that the impact of climate change won't be felt until 2040 or 2070 may be lessening the urgency of the issue for insurers and reinsurers.  ‘When you hear a date like 2040, you have to look at the history of the insurance and reinsurance industry,’ Ms. Conway said. While there is a desire to prepare for the future, there are a lot more imminent issues that must be addressed, she said.” (Mark A. Hoffman, “Cat modelers eyeing climate change debate - Warming trends not yet major factor in models,” Business Insurance, June 2, 2008)

2040 Global Warming Carbon Dioxide Levels

2040.  Critical threshold CO2 levels of 450 ppm projected to occur in 2040.  “The rise of greenhouse gases will trigger an unprecedented rate of global warming that will result in the loss of the ice-covered polar seas by 2020, much of our coral reefs by 2040 and see a 1.4- metre rise in the sea level by 2100. . . [In a paper published by Andrew Brierley of St Andrews University] and his co-author, Michael Kingsford of the James Cook University in Australia, [the two authors] examined the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on ocean habitats and marine organisms.  The scientists compared current carbon dioxide emissions with those forecast in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel [on] Climate Change (IPCC), the leading body for the assessment of global warming, which was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation. 

In 2007, the IPCC predicted a ‘worst-case scenario’ that would see rapid industrialisation cause carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to increase by two parts per million each year. Parts per million (ppm) is a unit of concentration used to measure pollutants.  Brierley said atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration had increased from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm to 385 ppm last year [2008] and was now rising at a rate of 2.5 ppm per year. . . [In] 2007 they made a series of forecasts and if you take the worst-case scenario, carbon dioxide would be going up by two parts per million [See the latest Mauna Loa CO2 annual mean data]. 

‘This really august body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said these are the worst-case scenarios for carbon dioxide increase and we are above that already. That's the thing that really frightens me.’  [See the latest Mauna Loa CO2 annual mean growth rates]

In their paper, Brierley and Kingsford said that a carbon dioxide level of 450 ppm was the critical threshold beyond which catastrophic and irreversible change might occur.  Reaching that level would mean a global mean temperature rise of 2C above pre-industrial values. At present rates this threshold will be passed by 2040.” (Tom Peterkin Scottish, “Scientists claim planet is heading for 'irreversible' climate change by 2040,” Scotland on Sunday, August 2, 2009 reporting on findings of Andrew S. Brierley and Michael J. Kingsford, “Impacts of Climate Change on Marine Organisms and Ecosystems,” Current Biology, 28 July 2009, Vol. 19, Issue 14, pp. R602-R614)


2040 is the deadline year for stabilizing the Earth’s carbon dioxide. 
“‘If we have any hope, we have until 2040 to stabilize the Earth's carbon dioxide," Blair Henry, a member of the U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change said. ‘We're going to have to have a 90 percent reduction in carbon burning in the developing world.’  Sixty percent of all the state's [Washington] carbon dioxide emissions comes from transportation sources. 

If the global warming issue has a poster child, Henry said, it's the sport utility vehicle. The giant road warriors are the most popular vehicles sold today, but they also have the worst fuel efficiency. The average SUV gobbles up less than 15 miles per gallon and produces 127 pounds of carbon dioxide per tankful of gas, he said.” (Jeremy Meyer, Yakima Herald-Republic, “Global Warming Also a Hot Local Issue -- Scientists warn of 'serious, nasty things coming' if we don't mend our polluting ways,” Yakima Herald-Republic, October 6, 1999)

2040.  Target year when transition from fossil fuels to new renewable energy sources must be completed.  “‘The transition to new renewable energy sources must be completed by 2040 or conventional oil reserves will run out. A 50-year transition will result in certain and severe economic hardship,’ says Joe Shuster, chemical engineer, entrepreneur and author of the new book, Beyond Fossil Fools...The Roadmap to Energy Independence by 2040.”  See book reviews of Beyond Fossil Fools. (“According to New Book, Focus on Global Warming is Delaying U.S. Energy Independence,” Business Wire, May 20, 2008)

2040 Food Security and Food Supply

2040.  Wheat yields could drop by 50% by 2040 due to phosphate shortages.  “Yields of non-organic wheat could fall from an average of 9 tonnes a hectare to 4 tonnes a hectare sometime between 2040 and the end of this century as the planet runs out of phosphorus, a key part of the fertiliser needed to grow non-organic crops.  85% of the known deposits of phosphorus are in four North African countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. The world is using the 4 to 8 billion tonnes of phosphorus left at the rate of around 125 million tonnes a year. . . 

The price of mineral rock Phosphate has increased by more than 500% over the last two years. Over the last 40 years, use of nitrogen, potassium and phosphate fertiliser has increased by 5 to 7 times, but yields have only doubled. So crops use fertiliser 2 to 3 times less efficiently now compared to 40 years ago. This is in part because breeding for conventional farming has produced varieties with smaller root systems, and because the microbes in the soil which help plants use fertiliser efficiently are inhibited by the use of artificial fertiliser. 

At the Soil Association’s National Conference - Food and Farming in 21st Century Britain - Professor Carlo Leifert said

‘For the last 50 years industrial farming has been relying on phosphate mined in North Africa in ever-increasing quantities, while using this scarce resource less and less efficiently. Scarcity of phosphates are driving up the price, and sooner or later, as we inevitably start to run out of phosphates, non-organic yields will start a dramatic decline. Organic farming will also face problems, although not on the same scale, and the solution would be for organic farmers to use human sewage as fertiliser.’”

(Sarah Dryden, “Wheat Yields Could Halve By 2040,” New Consumer Magazine, November 24, 2008)

2040.  Potential global shortage of phosphate by 2040.  “An Australian researcher has warned of a potential global shortage of phosphate.  Dana Cordell, of the Institute of Sustainable Futures, says demand for fertilisers has increased because of growing demand for food in India and China, as well as an increase in the growing of crops for biofuels. This has increased the price of phosphate and could lead to a shortage by 2040.” (Matthew Warren, “Warning of world phosphate shortage,” The Australian, ABIX via COMTEX Australasian Business Intelligence, March 11, 2008)

2040-Year of Despair.  Declines in agricultural productivity, widespread starvation and coastal towns destroyed.  “In their book It's a Matter of Survival, published in 1990, David Suzuki and Anita Gordon sound the [Greenhouse Effect] alarm. They say a warmer world in 2040 will have no forests, that fisheries will be affected, and there will be widespread starvation as agricultural productivity declines. As sea waters rise, they see coastal towns being destroyed. The authors go so far as to name the year 2040 Despair -- a time of ‘new famines, new droughts, new flooding, as the Earth's climate inexorably warms.’”  View videos of David Suzuki.  (No author credited, “Science under the microscope - global warming and scientific explanations,” Canada and the World Backgrounder, September 1, 1998) 

2040 Snow Cover Global Warming

2040.  April snowpack in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest projected to decline by as much as 40 percent by the 2040s.  “Further declines in Northwest snowpack are projected to result from additional warming over this century,varying with latitude, elevation, and proximity to the coast. April 1 snowpack is projected to decline as much as 40 percent in the Cascades by the 2040s.”  (Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson, (eds.). U.S. Global Change Research Program, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 135 citing findings from Payne, J.T., A.W. Wood, A.F. Hamlet, R.N. Palmer, and D.P. Lettenmaier, 2004: Mitigating the effects of climate change on the water resources of the Columbia River basin. Climatic Change, 62 (1-3), 233-256.) 

 2040 Fossil Fuel Consumption - Global Warming

2040.  Government mandated limits on fossil fuel consumption.  “By 2040 there will be . . . government mandated limits on the consumption of fossil fuels, most especially gasoline and petroleum based fuels.” (Raymond J. Learsy, “Energy markets in 2040 will be very different,” Pipeline & Gas Journal, May 1, 2007) 

 2040 Sea Level Rise

2040.  Two foot sea level rise projected for Ventura County, California coastline by 2040.  “Rising sea levels over the next 50 years could swamp hotels, power plants, the Point Mugu military base and as many as 4,100 low-lying houses along the Ventura County [California] coastline during big storms [Pierpoint Bay, Ventura Harbor, Edison Power Plant, Oxnard Shores, Hollywood Beach, Channel Islands Harbor, Silver Strand, Port of Hueneme, Hueneme Beach, Ormond Beach, Point Mugu], according to a new study of global warming by a USC research team. . . .

Researchers [led by Angela Constable, lead author of the climate change report], who studied Ventura County as a model for California's coastal communities, said they expect a sea-level rise of about 2 feet by 2040, and that local governments' reaction to the threats of sea rise and beach erosion will determine how much damage actually occurs.” (Daryl Kelley, Times Staff Writer, “Study Envisions Rising Sea Levels, Disaster - Global warming: USC team says 2-foot rise by 2040 could threaten roads and thousands of local coastal houses if steps aren't taken,” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, March 16, 1997 reporting findings in Angela Constable, Maurice D. Van Arsdol, Jr., Jiankiang Wang, Pamela A. McMullin-Messier, and Louise Rollin, “Demographic Responses to Sea Level Rise in California,” World Resource Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1997, pp. 32-44).  [See Constable et al map of projected Ventura County sea level rise.]

Other Forecasts and Projections Converging in 2040

Social Security and Medicare

2040.  Funding for Social Security and Medicare to be depleted by 2040 [revised to 2037 as of 2009].  “The trustees for the government's two biggest benefit programs said Monday that the trust fund for Social Security will be depleted in 2040, a year earlier than expected, while Medicare will exhaust its trust fund just 12 years from now.  The annual report showed deterioration in the financial condition of both programs although the problems in Medicare were depicted as far more serious because of the skyrocketing costs for health care.  

A year ago, the depletion of the Social Security trust fund had been projected to occur in 2041, one year later than the current estimate, and the Medicare hospital insurance fund had been forecast to last until 2020, two years longer than the current estimate.  The trustees, who include the head of the Social Security Administration and three members of President Bush's Cabinet, painted a sober assessment of the health of the two programs in advance of the looming retirements of 78 million baby boomers.  They stated that the projected long-term growth rates for both Social Security and Medicare are not ‘sustainable under current financing arrangements.’” (Martin Crutsinger, “Social Security, Medicare take hit: Both trust funds may be depleted by year 2040,” Charleston Gazette, May 2, 2006 citing findings from the citing findings from the 2006 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, was issued on May 1, 2006)) 

Standard of Living

2040.  3 billion people worldwide projected to have an American-style standard of living.  “There are 1 billion people on the globe living what would be considered an American-style life, including ourselves [2009]. By 2040, that number will triple [to 3 billion]. The world's burgeoning middle class will demand oil and it will get oil. Steady price increases are academic. Economics 101: Supply down, Demand up = higher prices.  The changes to our society will begin at $6 per gallon and continue on from there, affecting things far beyond the kinds of cars we drive and how often we drive them. 

America's obesity rate will fall. Mass transit will spread across the country. Plane graveyards will overflow. We'll lose the option to cheaply travel by plane, but high-speed train networks will slowly snake state to state. Disneyworld will lock its gates, Las Vegas' strip will shrink to half its size. Our air will be cleaner. Cities like Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee will revive at $12 per gallon, their streets rife with commerce, people and stores. The exurbs of America, where we've poured so much of our wealth during the last several decades, will atrophy, destroying the equity of those who held fast. Wal-Mart will go bankrupt at $14 per gallon and manufacturing jobs will return to the U.S. en masse.” (Christopher Steiner, “Excerpt: $20 Per Gallon, How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better,” NPR KCLU, July 16, 2009)

2040.  1.2 billion cars worldwide with 60% of the world living in cities.  “By 2040, GM says, there will be 1.2 billion cars on Earth, and 60 percent of humanity will be living in cities. For megacity countries like China, the explosion in use of conventional automobiles has already turned into a nightmare of smog, jammed roadways, and nonexistent parking.”  (“GM's EN-V Concept Car: Auto Redo For Green Future,” The Associated Press, Shanghai, China, March 24, 2010)

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